I started a post on this topic ages ago, and it became too long. So now I’m splitting it up into a series of posts on how life in Korea will change you. Please note that I speak from my own experiences, and that these things may not be true for everyone. However, based on the people I know and discussions I’ve had, they’re true for people other than me.
Also, these posts, it seems, are generally happier and more upbeat than my usual fare, so enjoy!
One of things that I genuinely love about Korea is how safe it is. I discovered just how used to this I’ve become when I was visiting home.
In Korea, I will happily take my laptop to a coffeeshop, and leave it on the table when I go up to order, leave it on the table when I go to fetch my drink, and leave it on the table if I go to the bathroom. At no point am I concerned that it won’t be there when I come back.
I would never do that back home.
If I realise, at 11pm, that I have no milk for my coffee the next morning, I’ll groan, put on some respectable garments, and go to the nearest convenience store to pick some up. And yes, I’ll walk there.
Back home, this would not have been the case. I would definitely have driven, even if it was only around the corner.
It’s 2am, the taxi driver has dropped me off at the wrong school (I always give them the name of the school next to my building), and when I realise this, I sigh, pull out my phone, and use Google maps to find my way home. It’s an inconvenience, but hey, the fresh air and the walk will do me good.
Back home… walking around at 2am? Probably less than sober? Not. On. Your. Life.
I’m not saying that Korea is 100% safe, or that theft and assault don’t happen here. I won’t pretend that my actions in any of these three scenarios (or dozens of others) show reasonable caution. I also won’t say that there have been no scenarios where I didn’t feel safe, but those were in completely different contexts.
The general feeling of safety is still one of the coolest things about Korea.
So what will Korea change about you?
It will change how you view safety. I would never have thought I’d be that careless with my things. I’d never have thought I’d be finding my way home through empty streets in the early hours of the morning. I certainly never thought I’d leave my handbag unattended, or assume I’d find my cellphone where I left it at a bar.
And that… that’s pretty cool.